When I got back from the Dominican Republic, all I wanted to do was escape again. Overwhelmed was putting it lightly. My brain was back to reality, but reality hadn’t set in. I was spacey, tired, sad, sleepy, confused, empty, guilty, giddy, happy, and nervous all rolled into one. My head hurt a little, but my brain couldn’t comprehend that pain. It was too distracted. Everyone wanted to know what I did there, how was it?, and no, beyond the bug bites and sunburn! Beach, a couple excursions, I said to some. I left out the buffets and unlimited drinks to some others. All I wanted to do was find out how the Orchestra was doing since he went. Am I allowed to feel giddy and happy in the midst of him being gone? I didn’t know then and I still don’t know now.

There is a tribute for him in his old chair, complete with his trumpet and a picture of him smiling with his dog. It is not the same without him physically present and I want to cry when I see it, only no tears slide down. I see my stand partner tearing up and all I can do is touch her arm lightly. I should hug her, I should say something wise, but I have nothing to offer except for that light touch. I am thinking of the last words I said to him and how I’m still in shock. “Thank you” seems not enough to express my gratitude for his presence, but I’m glad I got the chance to say it. Even one last time, unknowingly.

How unfair life really is, this short living, breathing beast that we must face every single day and yet never know how much longer we have left. It didn’t happen. He’s going to be back when it’s Orchestra time, not band only. It’s just going to be band only for a while. Orchestra welcomes me back, especially the string section, but I just feel guilty I went away to the Caribbean, where the sun and personal heartbreak is eight times stronger than anywhere else, while everyone else was left here to mourn, here to pray, here to have to come up with things to say to his parents, here to visit, and here to suffer in silence together.

Tonight I want to weep in the shower, except all that comes out is an inscrutable sound, like the start of a wail that was cut short by pure grief that wanted to hide. He’s gone and I didn’t say good-bye. I prayed, but I was too cowardly to really say good-bye. I have already gone through too much and I can’t go through another one. My brain is twisted. I am happy for the progression of my personal life, even though I’m afraid to really talk about it. This feeling mixed with loss is a confusing mess of emotions, an amalgam of fears I can’t chase away no matter how hard I go to work.


…violin especially

You died today. I know nothing about you except that your mother must have accompanied you to every lesson and written down everything you were doing wrong. She smiled at your teacher and then as soon as you were alone with her at home the stern look would make an appearance and everything written down would fly off the page and onto your face, leaving you wondering why someone who doesn’t even know how to hold the bow right could believe she’s good at everything, including this. I know you must have practiced ten hours a day or maybe it was two hours every night after school and then work before joining such a prestigious orchestra. That must have been the most nerve-wracking audition of your life, but at least one where you didn’t feel like you had to tell anyone what they wanted to hear about how your audition went because it was all the truth. Your truth. And you were finally ready to tell it. That’s why LA Phil let you in. Your father must have never supported your dream which only made you practice harder, not so much to prove him wrong as so much not wanting to end up like him, skeptical of anything and anyone that didn’t have to do with his immediate family. LA Phil headlines are still here. You died, but your dream stays alive.


Trying to be all “yay!” and not sure yet if it’ll work…


I picked this up today even though it was 15 days ago. I just didn’t get a chance to until now. It was a nice surprise free gift from Ulta. I didn’t want to pass it up even though I’m not really the girly type. Who knows? I may need to use it in the future. I can see why some girls really love this stuff. The packaging of beauty products almost always looks pretty. And shiny too a lot of times. I suppose pretty and shiny appeals to most girls.

Britney Spears has become a kind of good luck charm for me. If I randomly hear her song somewhere, it usually means something good will happen to me. When I listen to her albums, I feel happy and if I feel down, her songs lift me up. It all started with her being the first artist I ever became a fan of such a long time ago. Some people have made fun of me for liking her, but I mean, if she’s got so many fans she’s super famous, there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with those people who made fun of me for liking her. That has to count for something right?

Well, the next few days, and hopefully this won’t last for more than a few days, I will be listening to Britney Spears a lot or at least wishing I could hear her song randomly somewhere.


Why You Need To See “Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of”

Below is an essay I wrote meant for submission for somewhere else, but now I’m free to post here. In the spirit of the band officially forming on April 20, 1993, I meant to post closer to the anniversary of that date, but only got to it now. Enjoy.




Mary Lou Kownacki once said, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” During their In a World Like This Tour two years ago, my girlfriends and I went to one of the Backstreet Boys’ 20th anniversary concerts and it was obvious the fans in attendance had grown up listening to them. We were surrounded by girls who smoked and drank beers, holding a couple of Straw-Ber-Ritas in hand ourselves. It’s true that weddings and funerals bring people together, but so does BSB. The same girlfriends and I recently reunited to watch the band’s “Show ‘Em What You’re Made of” documentary and coincidentally, BSB just released the Deluxe Edition on We Are Colony. While watching the film, it was Mary Lou Kownacki’s quote I couldn’t stop thinking of throughout the experience.

Not everyone can relate to being in a boy band or even being a fan of a boy band, but everyone can relate to having a dream and the passion to go after it. For anyone who has something they want to accomplish, BSB is an inspiration. The documentary gives a candid look inside the lives of each BSB member, from starting out as kids dreaming of performing on stage in front of a huge crowd to becoming a popular band in Europe selling millions of records to cursing each other out through the struggles the band faces while working on a new album. Each band member started out as a boy, but there is no doubt they have all matured into Backstreet Men.

Watching this movie with my girlfriends helped us bond while laughing at the goofballs that we didn’t know the boys were, wishing we could go back in time when the boys were just starting out. Nick admitted the band began as a manufactured boy band and there were a lot of stereotypes associated with that, but like Pinocchio, they became a real band. We could see the progression from having everyone else telling them what to do and what to say to 20 years later, making their own record and thinking for themselves. We watched them call Howie “Twinkle Toes,” Brian and Nick “Frick and Frack,” and A.J. model his “Drive” jacket. They love to play basketball, especially Nick and Brian, and when their manager at the time, Lou Pearlman, first put the group together, they made $75 per week. When talking about when they first started out, A.J. said, “This makes sense. Our voices blend perfectly.”

But with every journey, there are road bumps along the way and one of BSB’s biggest challenges is getting Brian’s voice back on track. Brian has been diagnosed with vocal tension dysphonia, a condition that adds stress on his vocal cords, making it hard for him to get the same sound he used to be known for, jeopardizing his part as one of the band’s lead singers. When discussing his voice, he said, “I just want to be me,” and you can hear how frustrated he’s been, dealing with the inconsistency in the function of his voice. Meanwhile, even though Lou was like a father figure to the boys, especially for Kevin, who was able to quit his multiple jobs at Walt Disney World to do what he loves to do full-time, they find out Lou hadn’t been truthful to them and end up filing a lawsuit against him for stealing most of their earnings.

The fact that the boys can openly cry in front of each other and hug each other to show love and support whether it’s Kevin talking about his dad’s cancer or Nick talking about being bullied in school for being an odd kid shows not just how brotherly close they are, but how human they are. They may be pop stars, but first and foremost they are people with emotions and real problems: weight gain, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, depression, a “bad boy” phase, and a lawsuit just to name a few. They have said things to each other ranging from “you are dead to me” to “I know what you’ve been through.” They started out doing free shows before getting a record deal, performing at grade schools across the country, proving that they can sing a cappella “at the drop of a hat.” In a music world saturated with auto-tune, it’s comforting to know these guys can sing for real.

Yet the thing that will get to you the most is watching each BSB go back and recognizing their music and dance teachers. These teachers saw them as boys who needed an escape, as students who were learning how to dance, and as singers who had heavenly gifts to share with the world. Those teachers knew back then and looking at the Backstreet Boys now, who would deny it? To answer their own question, the Backstreet Boys are made of persistence, resilience, friendship, brotherhood, authenticity, and family. Most of all, they are overcomers, and you can’t help but like them for it.

The story opened with the boys hiking up a hill and ended with them making it to the top together, all in one piece despite doubts and challenges while climbing the rocks. It is very much a metaphor of their careers. Like ‘em or not, BSB played a huge part in forming the music of the ‘90s and it’s pretty clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Many groups have come and gone, but Kevin has come back for good now and over 20 years later they are still making music together, this time around with more instrumentals and writing their own songs on their own record label. The journey is by no means over and there’s still a lot of healing and baggage to deal with, but one thing’s for certain—there’s never been a better time to say Backstreet’s back, alright!


little gems

The words never come at the time you want them to. :/

The joy of Christmas didn’t hit me until yesterday morning, Christmas morning, when I put on some Christmas music and started dancing to it in my underwear. Shh! :X (*gasp* I know, you’re not supposed to know this, but I’m telling you anyway. I blame ConCru. Since meeting them and writing with them I’ve become a little more personal in my writing, although still shy about sharing my deepest, darkest secrets. I mean there’s more than one way to do this, obviously, but while taking writing classes at university I developed the belief that a really good writer is not afraid to get dirrty and show the detailed truth about living.) It occurred to me that dancing in my underwear is like dancing in a bikini. And it made me laugh like little gems of revelation usually do. And it made me look at my body in the mirror. And it made me realize that yeah, I don’t look exactly like those pictures in the magazines or a pageant contestant during the swimsuit competition, but I like what I see in the mirror. And that my lovelies, was a reason to be joyous all in itself.


Which is it?

I burned my hand this morning at work so tonight I had an emergency Eminem party. I think that’s a pretty good reward for my left hand that I had to leave out the shower like I’m the Statue of Liberty or something. Oh wait. I think she had her right hand up. Well, that’s okay because you know what I mean. There’s a red mark where the hot water burned me. Too bad there wasn’t any aloe around, but at least there was cold water I could wash it with. And that’s not all the burn left behind. Now I’m left wondering if this burn is supposed to be some sort of life metaphor related to what’s currently going on in my life. Or maybe I just need to be more careful. 😛


One Last Time


Today I watched a man on stage play his guitar for possibly the last time in his life. He’s about to get hand surgery and no one knows if he’ll still be able to play the guitar after the procedure. Then I thought about my hands. What would I do if I could never write again?

I think that man was very brave going on stage—no words, just strummed strings. It’s like that gun pointed at your head demanding a response. Will he ever play again? Then I wondered how many women his hand had played the way he played his guitar. I tried silently reprimanding my thoughts for even coming up with this idea, but they wouldn’t listen because that’s just me.

Maybe the only woman his hand ever played with was his wife.

Maybe it reminded me of Holden Caulfield (you are my best friend if you know what part of the book I’m talking about).

Afterwards, I went to feed Belly (that’s my car in case you don’t know) and gave her a quick wash with my hand. It was warm and comfortable under the sun, a nice respite from the October cold and I never appreciated a functioning hand more than this.